Computers are like a bicycle for our minds - Steve Jobs

I spend most of my time on a computer. And I want to be as effective as possible. There are many tools I use everyday to help me get things done.

This post will be continually updated.

Always On


AutoHotKey is a Windows-based program that allows you to create keyboard shortcuts. This tool is extemely useful to get repetitive tasks done such as looking up words, open an application, and writing your signature at the end of your email.

When I was preparing for a GRE, I wrote a simple launcher-like application–which I call my virtual assistant “Insighty”– using AutoHotKey. The original goal was to look up GRE vocab without having to click too many links. It has been evolved(or mutated) to much more than a launcher. I have been using it for 5 years, almost everyday.

  • have been using: since 2008




Oh my god. Vim is a super amazing text editor that will change the way you think about text.

Basically, Vim lets you “shred text at the speed of thought”.

Read this essay by Rudis Muiznieks on Vim for inspiration.

I write my email, CV, websites, DET posts using Vim or editors with Vim functionalities.

  • have been using it since : 2012

Sublime Text 3

Sublime Text 3 augments Vim because it lets me Vim(via its Vintage mode) and gives me superpower like multiple cursors, lightening fast file search, and amazing package ecosystems.

For example, writing a latex document on ST3 is a joyful experience.

  • have been using it since : 2011


I use Editorial on my phone because it lets me write markdown documents in my dropbox. I am currently writing this post using Editorial.

  • have been using it since : 2017

Data Processing

R and Rstudio


  • have been using it since : 2013


  • have been using it since : 2013


Bash script get things done.

Using Bash taught me the core unix philosophy. Basically, I learned what it means to solve a nontrivial problem by breaking it into a series of subproblems, each of them tackled by highly specialized programs.

Sometimes I go overboard with process substitutions, though.

  • have been using it since : 2012

Task management

Google Calendar

Hands down the best calendar app which I have been using since like high school.

  • have been using it since : 2006


I like WL because I can access to my to do list virtually anywhere

  • have been using it since : 2017


Best task management software. I use it for both professional and personal projects

Knowledge management





I learn a majority of cool new technology from HN.





Spaced Repetition is a marvelous mental magic that enables you to memorize things. It helped me ace organic chemistry, memorize GRE vocab, and make new concepts I learned permanent.

I used to use Mnemosyne for this, but I switched to Anki because of its support for iPhone.

Anki is the best tool that helps you do Spaced Repetition.

  • have been using it since: 2014



Thanks to its amazing search ability and ubiquity, Evernote has been my second brain.

As of June, 2017, I have 9008 notes. The more notes I started accumulating, the more useful they get, I found.

By the way, I am neither a good writer nor good note taker, so a lot of my notes are rife with choppy thoughts and unfinished writing. Nonetheless, they are extremely helpful because often times, Its a tiny little information in your notes that can save the day that might have been otherwise wasted.

  • have been using it since: 2011


Unix tools


without this, I would have been forced to buy a mac.




jq is a “lightweight and flexible command-line JSON processor”.

JSON is everywhere and due to its structure, it’s a bit of pain to quickly get my hands dirty with it using standard Unix tools. jq is a command line tool to manipulate JSON data.

Good primer is Andrew Giiansky’s “jq Primer: Munging JSON Data” where he list Unix commands and the analogous jq commands.

  • have been using it since: 2016





I have used Excel and Mint to do my personal finances, but I never liked them. Actually, I have used Excel for budgetting purposes for a while, but I stopped because I got lazy.

After reading this post by Vince Cima, which was featured on hacker news on July 19, 2016, I have started using hledger, and I’ve been using it for a year now.

I like it because it’s a text data, so I can use Unix tools and R to do quick analysis and search a particular transaction that I want to remember.


5 second rule

habit cycle




I have been wishing there was an app that allows me to efficiently track exercise routines I have done. I wanted it because I often found myself not remembering what I have done in a previous session or what weight I have used for a particular exercise. Plus, I often daydream in the gym that I forget what reps I was on during a particular exercise. Logging was needed for both recall and concentration.

I tried using a simple note on a phone, but I quickly stopped using it because there was too much typing and it got in the way during the session. Plus, I wanted functionalities like timer, simple input interface, charts, and etc. Recently, I found this app called Strong. It’s been pretty good and met all my needs.

  • have been using it since: 2017


Password management

My memory is getting worse as I got older, but there are increasingly more passwords to remember. Plus, where I work requires me to change password every 6 months. I finally ended up using LastPass.

Here’s a good review that convinced me to try.

  • have been using it since: 2017